As we go through the day it’s perfectly normal to encounter a wide range of emotions. Some of these will be pleasurable while others are uncomfortable or downright painful. Prior to the program we sought a release from feelings which caused us discomfort or pain through our drug of choice. Because we buffered feelings with alcohol, drugs or food, we never really got a chance to find a resolution to many of these painful circumstances. When a difficulty came up, we just covered it with a substance.
In sobriety, we have chosen a different pathway. When things happen in our lives which cause us to become angry, resentful, fearful or sad, we no longer attempt to escape. Rather, we allow ourselves to feel the feelings. Sobriety has helped us to identify these feelings and seek a solution to whatever is bothering us. We no longer need to cover over our problems. We can take steps to deal with the anger, fear, or any other emotion which has overrun us. Over time we evolve strategies which help us avoid many life situations which in the past would have caused us harm. Utilizing the steps we begin to heal the wreckage of our past.
Personal Reflection: Am I walking around with unresolved feelings?
As we were growing up, we were not issued a manual on how to navigate this life. Many feelings arose for us on a daily basis. Although some were positive, many were not. All those feelings of fear, anger, shame, jealousy, envy and pride hobbled our ability to function on a daily basis. We suffered greatly because of it. Then one day, we discovered alcohol, drugs or food. As soon as we ingested our drug of choice, all of the pain we suffered from lifted. At least for a short while we had a respite. The problem was that a short respite was not enough and we increased our usage. Before we knew it, we couldn’t even identify what a feeling was. We walked around in a coma like state; one day aimlessly following another.
At some point we were able to put down our substance. Within a short period of time, we began to truly feel alive once again. Shortly thereafter all of those old troubling feelings came flooding back as well. This time we didn’t run away from all of those feelings. With tools garnered from our 12 step program we were able to deal with life issues without turning to substances. We had learned the meaning of living life on life’s terms.
Personal Reflection: How do I deal with feelings today?
There are a wide variety of meetings for 12 step members. Some are specifically designed to address particular issues. For example there is a recognition that some of the problems that men and women face are different due to their individual natures. Recently, at a men’s meeting a fellow was sharing about his father. He described an incident where he and his father attended the funeral for his uncle. His father had come from a large family and had already buried a number of siblings. As they lowered the coffin into the ground, everyone except the father was crying. The member turned to his dad and asked him why he wasn’t crying. He also pointed out that at previous funerals, the same thing had occurred. His father turned to him and said, “I can’t. I wasn’t brought up that way”. As the fellow at the meeting told the story, he began to cry about the stoicism of his father.
Many of us were brought up not to cry. We were told, “real men don’t cry”. We learned not to show our feelings and along the way discovered alcohol and drugs to aid us in this endeavor. We now know that G-d gave us the ability to cry for a reason. Real men do cry and real women do cry.
Personal Reflection: Am I able to show my feelings to others?